7 Skills You Need
to Become CIO of Your Company

See also: Strategic Thinking

Like the Chief Executive Officer, (CEO), the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is considered to be a high-level executive role within a company.

In some ways, the skills needed to become a CIO are similar to the skills needed for becoming a CEO; both types of executives need to possess leadership skills and outstanding communication skills. However, the roles do have some significant differences, and so they require a slightly different skill set.

A CIO is typically the individual who oversees all IT-related activities and decisions within an organization. This means that the CIO must have a strong foundation in information technology (IT). In addition to management skills, it’s ideal for CIOs to possess a solid understanding for how to execute tasks that IT professionals typically perform, such as the mechanics of monitoring networks and performing system maintenance. More importantly, CIOs must also have a big-picture understanding of how to best use the IT team’s talents to achieve the organization’s most important goals.

Let’s take a look at seven skills you’ll need to cultivate if you hope to advance to the role of CIO of your company

1. The Ability to Guide Your Team Through Constant Change

Your company, your industry and your world are in a constant state of change. Organizations restructure and go out of business, new technologies arise, and old technologies decline. People leave the industry, and new people launch careers to take their place. It’s your job to help your team comprehend and navigate all the changes, and more importantly, to make sure your organization stays relevant through them all.

2. Financial Intelligence

As a CIO, you will most likely be tasked with allocating resources that will have a significant impact on your organization’s bottom line. You’ll need to possess a keen understanding of how to interpret the company’s financials. Specifically, you’ll need to know where the IT department fits into the company’s overall revenue streams. Every single investment made in IT will need to provide a return for the company.

3. Trend Forecasting Skills

Considering the rapid advancement of information technologies, the CIO must be a forward-thinking visionary. It isn’t enough for the CIO to keep pace with technologies that have already been implemented. To be effective in the role of CIO, an executive must be able to make educated guesses about what will happen in the future as new technologies change the ways that people work, transact business and live.

This ability to predict the future is an exceptionally rare talent. Most people simply cannot do much more than react to situations after they happen. However, trend forecasting is a skill that can be acquired if you make an effort. If you hope to be CIO of your company, it would be ideal to work at developing this ability.

To sharpen your visionary abilities, allocate time in your schedule each week to learn about new technologies that will affect your industry. Then take time to reflect on what effects each of those technologies could potentially have on contemporary life. Ask yourself what ways they could affect your company and your industry as a whole.

If you make this reflection a part of your work week, over time you will develop your ability to make educated predictions about the effects various technologies might have on your organization and your community.

4. Accountability

Your team will most likely be doing ground-breaking work under tight deadlines. It will fall to you to make sure the group delivers on all the things expected of your team. There will be occasional disappointments and issues that derail timely project completion. It will be up to you to keep everyone on track to fulfil obligations on time and on budget, but when that doesn’t happen, you will need to take responsibility for getting things back on track.

You absolutely don’t want to be the one blaming everyone else for the things that go wrong; that will only make the situation worse, as it has the potential to provoke your colleagues to anger. As CIO, it’s ideal if you’re able to accept responsibility for uncomfortable situations and gracefully find a way to move your team forward when they happen.

5. Risk Management Skills

Risk is an inherent part of technological innovation. Your organization will never make gigantic leaps of forward progress without accepting at least some measure of risk. The trick is to admit that risk is inevitable, and to manage the risks you assume on behalf of your organization. The CIO’s goal isn’t to avoid all risk, but rather it is to minimize losses while making as much progress as possible.

6. Organizational Skills

As CIO, you might be tasked with the coordination of work between your IT department and other departments such as sales and marketing. You might even be coordinating work between multiple IT departments. It will be crucial for you to be able to stay organized. Careful record keeping is frequently part of the job description.

7. Foundational Knowledge of IT

To effectively manage an IT team, it’s ideal if you have a solid foundational knowledge of network architecture, databases and cloud computing.

Without these skills, you will be at an extreme disadvantage when trying to do your job. You might not actually be doing these things yourself in your day-to-day workflow, but someone on your team will need to do them, and you’ll have to effectively manage them as they work. When things go wrong, you will need to be able to troubleshoot each aspect of IT to arrive at a solution. Troubleshooting and fixing problems would be challenging for you without core knowledge of information technology.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

The above are seven of the most important skills a CIO could possess, along with communication skills and leadership skills. If you want to be CIO, hopefully many of these skills already come naturally to you, but if they don’t, don’t worry, as these are all skills that can be refined and cultivated with effort. It’s worthwhile to do so, because these skills will set you apart from other CIO hopefuls when it comes time to interview for the job.

About the Author

Andrej is an entrepreneur, a digital marketer and an avid internet technologist. Throughout his career, Andrej has combined his passion for cutting-edge technology with a keen eye for emerging industry trends to deliver customised marketing solutions to businesses and clients around the globe.

He believes that the key to modern marketing excellence is a constant willingness to learn and adapt to the ever-changing digital world.